By Elaine Knudtson
“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” sung by Selah
I Love You
God loved us before the foundations of the earth. He prepared a beautiful place that could sustain our needs and fill our longings. He placed us in families to care for our needs and support us through life’s journey with stories and traditions passed from one generation to the next. Finally, in the ultimate act of love, he gave his only begotten son to restore our broken relationship with the Father and give us eternal life. He waits for us to say, “I love you.”
Lord, it is easy for us to take you for granted. The story of your love can become as stale as the straw in the manger if we don’t pause and let you remind us that it was a supreme act of love for Jesus to be given to us. Let us consider our proper response to this generous gift of grace.
“In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck; the yoke will be broken” Isa.10:26.
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” I John 5:1-5.
“6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Heb. 11:6.
“I love you” are the sweetest words your child can utter to you for the first time. You have waited through pregnancy, birth, and the mind-numbing early weeks of their lives to hear those words. You love them simply because they are yours and there is no other response. We teach them to say “I love you” by showing them our love and telling them that we love them. We can’t make them love us or mimic the words because it is meaningless. But that first time they say it on their own, unsolicited, is magical. It overwhelms us.
How much greater must be our Father’s joy when we pause and respond to His acts of love by saying, “I love you Lord.” Grace has been poured on us from creation to the incarnation and on to the final eschaton, but it becomes personal when we speak to God as an individual and declare our love. We cannot say it unless we believe that “He is and he rewards those who seek him.” Love is an act of faith in the God of love who first loved us. It is relational, personal, intimate, the words of a child or a lover to the beloved. The audacity of that phrase—I love you God.
Once you have declared your love, you can’t walk away and pretend that nothing has changed. God will pursue you and make His home with you. Your response will be to worship, meet with others who have opened themselves to the love of God, pursue peace, follow His commands, and show love to your neighbor, whether they respond or not. It is God’s act of first loving us that can change our world from selfishness to generosity; from self-serving ambition to humble service; from jealousy and fear to acceptance and generosity. It is the spirit of Christmas that we need the whole year through.
Points to Ponder
- What is your response to the words “I love you”. How does that change a relationship?
- How do you show your love to God? What would you expect to see in a world where love of God and love of neighbor were the primary motivators?
Dear Lord, we have learned to love you. It is not without expectations. Help us to find ways to express that love to our neighbor and to accept the love we receive from others as though it came from you. We want to be in a relationship with you even though it can be frightening. We can never live up to the expectations of a perfect God, but we know that “perfect love casts out all fear.”